I have started to see a serious pattern that only self made established people have a place in society in old age. It helps to be your own boss in old age. Employers leave you feeling discarded when they let you go for retirement, particularly for women when this often coincides with the family having grown and left.
This recession has been harsh because it has let people go from jobs at a point in life where they feel there is no return. Larger companies are becoming increasingly underhand in how they force older employees out of the work place. Even our self employed female clients struggle to be confident at a certain age. But if you have not well established yourself in your 40’s there seems little hope for you in your 50’s, 60′, 70’s and beyond.
It seems a rarity to find people such as Eileen Gray working up until her 90’s or Agatha Christie who wrote her last novel at 83. She in fact wrote the last books for her Poirot and Miss Marple characters 36 years earlier allowing them to age too!
When we start to look around for “older” female role models we struggle a bit. One woman told me recently that “the world fails to see you after 50 in the workplace”.
So it is becoming increasingly obvious that employees need to start building an exit strategy. The only contented older people I know all are self employed or “self made”. The feel like they still have a reason to get up in the morning.
Two books in recent years which have been made into films have highlighted the dejected feelings of a nursing home, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and the Swedish based book The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Both of these are a great insight into older men in the retirement home hell. The hundred year old man really challenges our perceptions of what older people can get up to and how much trouble they can get themselves into!
We really need Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith at 79 to fill our screens and show it’s ok to age. You can still do what you love. But if you are relying on others to show you your place in the world you will be waiting. You need to establish yourself before you get old and set yourself up to be taken seriously, regardless of age.
I always enjoy working with older clients because they have so much experience to bring – we just inject the fresh start mentally. It’s like working with the full circle of development.
If Hillary Clinton runs for president at age 66 it’ll be a new frontier.
Dr Naoise O’Reilly Expression Developist™.